Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pass It On

Today the Lord reminded me through the kind hands of someone else that I need not fear giving til I have nothing else. Because He gives and gives and gives.

As so often happens at our house, today there were unexpected needs - people to serve.
The door was answered in the pouring rain before the sun came up to a man whose family was breaking apart. Problems were discussed {abuse, anger, fights, children, finances, unfaithfulness... the list is always long}, breakfast was served to him... the day went on.

The fact that there was an extra man with red eyes eating breakfast didn't mess up my day. But I felt a bit annoyed that my mother who is fighting for her life had additional stressful counseling added to her day and less time to take care of herself as she needs to. Because a good part of yesterday was spent loving and talking other people through all sorts of problems.

Mom came up to the girls' room bright and early and said, "We've got to have a prayer meeting. There's too many problems for us to deal with. I need to stop worrying about what to do with and for all of these people." And she was right. This week, we've been involved with several divorces, several child custody fights, a couple of families with alienated children, other relationship problems... really, the people who call and come and need something never end. So, we rose from our knees 20 minutes later, feeling a little better. We left all of the sad and bad and sometimes hopeless-seeming situations in the hands of our capable all-wise God, and then we went about our day.

I had barely left the house when I got a text for a sweet Christian lady we know. She has a bunch of little boys. I can't imagine that she ever has spare time on her hands, but I've never heard her complain about anything.

Her text said she was going to be stopping by with a gluten-free dinner.


That was the whole family's response. Really?

We could almost hear God say, "See? You keep giving to the people I put in your life, and I'll give to you when I know you need it."

May I be swift to obey the next time the Lord prompts me to make someone a casserole... just because He said so.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A New Way to Live

A few months ago, I found the words of this hymn echoing through my heart day after day:

Fill thou my life, O Lord, my God
In every part with praise,
That my whole being may proclaim
Thy being and Thy ways;
Not for the lip of praise alone,
Nor e'en the praising heart
I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part.

Praise in the common words I speak,
Life's common looks and tones,
In fellowship at hearth or board
With my beloved ones, -
Enduring wrong, reproach or loss
With sweet and steadfast will,
Loving and blessing those who hate,
Returning good for ill.

So shall each fear, each fret, each care,
Be turned into song,
And every winding of the way
The echo shall prolong;
So shall no part of day or night
From sacredness be free,
But all my life, in every step,
Be fellowship with Thee.

~ Horatius Bonar

While I washed dishes, while I drove to prenatals, while I waited for my flat tire to get fixed, while I was grocery shopping, while I was juicing fresh veggies for Mom, when the house was 100 degrees inside, while I was running, while I was cooking breakfast, while scrubbing out dirty produce buckets, as I drove away from births, those lines

I ask, but for a life made up
Of praise in every part.

clanged loudly, jarring me from the irritating, the tiring, the annoying, the mundane, even the wonderful that I reveled in. Praise in this.

Praise for all of the things that happened today that weren't supposed to. Praise in the midst of missing important deadlines because my brother was having problems and I had to occupy him. Praise while Mom feeling sick. {Wouldn't she rather hear me happily singing at the sink, anyway?}

Praise instead of sighing to myself when the floor was sticky and the oven wasn't working and my car was needing another repair.


That could be my life. My life doesn't have to include silent sighs and groans to myself.
Praise. That can be my whole life. EVERY part.

It starts with calling someone to tell them that I will have to reschedule this afternoon's prenatal. {How unprofessional! a murmur rises up in me. I was late to their last appointment after having to borrow a car at the last minute. And now this! Undecided whether I should explain what's happening at my house and with my family, or leave them wondering if I'm unreliable, I hesitate. Then, one little word comes to mind: Praise. Praise in the common words I speak. That's your new way to live.}

A smile crosses my face. Yes, in this, too.

What good is praise if it's only during the times when anyone's heart would sing for joy?

Not just praise on my lips, or even just praise in my heart.
A LIFE made up of praise in every part.

I've met a few people whose whole life appears to be a praise song to their Maker.
They just live different than the rest of us fretting, whining people.

My Jesus deserves that from my life.

My rest-of-2011-resolution? To sing this song pretty much every day, and to live it every day.

That's why I leave the book open to hymn #42 in the kitchen window nearly every day.

Will you join me? :)

Monday, September 26, 2011

The God of Hope

It was a warm summer day as I was driving across the Midwest. It was just going to be a short trip for some continuing education at a conference. Instead it had become a painful reminder of what wasn't. I drove past places that all haunted me with what could have been.

And I remembered what I almost had, only to have it gone.

Sometimes it takes seeing what you could have to make you realize what you don't have and just how much you want it. Such had been the case in what I had lost.

As I drove along I-70, self-pity threatened to engulf my little car.

Earlier that week, I had cancelled most of my long-awaited summer plans at the last minute because of a family crisis. Cancelling them wasn't that bad, but it just confirmed to me that hoping and planning for anything I wanted was a bad idea.

Then, there had been something else that I hoped would work out. And clearly, even today, I could see that it wasn't going to. It seemed that I had everything that I really didn't care about and none of the things that I wanted the most. I might as well bury that fading dream, too, and move on with my life... and not be so hopeful. Yes, hope. That was my problem. I hoped too much for things that I wasn't in charge of. I should know better by now - so often life didn't turn out as I would have hoped.

A few tears threatened to spill out and I stared hard into the cornfields. Sometimes it was easier to pretend I didn't care about these disappointments. But I really did care. A whole lot.

Maybe, I reasoned to myself, I should just plan for nothing. I'll be pleasantly surprised if anything happens the way I wish it would.

And then that still, small Voice spoke: "But I'm the God of Hope. Remember?" (Romans 15:13)
"Why do you discount and throw away hope when that is My very essence and character? I AM Hope!"

I gripped the steering wheel, glad I was all alone for hours more so I could have this conversation with God by myself. "B-But, I've tried hope. Hope makes me miserable. I don't want to hope anymore... I want to just live in reality - that life is hard and unfair, that the people and things that I love the most get crushed and torn apart, wrenched from my hands and heart. If I just plan for that, I won't get so disappointed. It's much less painful to live that way."

Case in point - this most recent disappointment. I had hoped that perhaps it was God doing something that I'd been waiting on and praying about for such a very long time. And then this... just nothingness. He wasn't doing something with that after all. Why did I think He was?

My gentle Lord continued probing. "Mary, you choose to believe a lie when you act like I'm not going to be good to you in this. You choose to believe a lie when you act as though you will reap sorrow when you sow good things. Do you not believe me when I say that those who sow to the Spirit, will of the Spirit reap LIFE everlasting? (Galatians 6:8) The Life that I give is an abundant one, not a dreary existence. Was it not obedience to ME that led you to say 'no' to what you wanted most?"



"It's not that I don't believe that You're good, God. You're just not necessarily going to give me all these things that I want so much in life. You are more than good if all you give me is Yourself and heaven. I'm going to lower my expectations and be happy with that."


I knew that Voice ~ God knocking on the door of my weary heart.


"Mary, I'm the God of HOPE! Not the God of frequent disappointment, as you're making Me out to be! To think anything less of Me is wrong. Why are you making a resolution to live as though I will disappoint you?"

I felt so rebuked... slapped almost. Why had I been believing such things about God?



The God of all hope... what does that mean in real naked truth?

First of all, Hope is not synonymous with demanding my own way or thinking that the sea will part before me just because I desperately want it to.

Hope is inconvenient, very much so. It makes the hard things in life that much more painful, because often I had expected different. It can search my heart and motives to the very bottom.

I don't usually ask for hope, and often I don't actually want it.
What I really want is for the desire to go away, or be granted.

As much as we find ourselves praying for what we want, sometimes God doesn't restore broken dreams, regardless of how right they may be. Sometimes He leaves them lying smashed all over the ground.

Sometimes the wayward children never come home and mothers receive phone calls that they died in a fight outside a bar last night. Sometimes lonely ex-spouses pass away having never reconciled with the one who left. And sometimes cancer and disease creep over the body and people grow weaker and weaker til they're gone. Sometimes strong young boys lose their limbs and eyes and sanity in accidents and war and come home as broken men. Sometimes little girls get molested for years behind closed doors and no one ever hears their pleading, silent cries for help. Sometimes babies die, even after years and years of waiting for them. Sometimes the fiance who broke up never changes their mind and "comes around."
Hoping doesn't mean that I believe that God will never take something from me that I love dearly. Or that a God who loves me will never let my heart and my little world be broken. Or that He won't let everything I've spent my life working on swirl down the drain before my eyes.

So, then, in a disappointing and broken world... what is hope?

Hope is a steadfast confidence in the nature of God to do me good -- from creation, to Calvary and all the way into eternity to come. Hope is believing what I cannot see, simply because I know God. Hoping is walking on in the dark, because Jesus is there. Hope is about not quitting when all seems lost, because I know that God is greater than all of these things.

The Psalmist said it well when he made that little, but powerful statement: "Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him..."

Hope in what? GOD.

And so I choose to continue to hope, to put my heart on the line, to be vulnerable and to trust that regardless of what I want, what I get will be good, because I'm staking my heart on GOD. God Himself will never disappoint me. A glimpse of God is enough to fill my soul and heal my heart.

Hope allows me to smile as I drive down I-70 and stare into the cornfields, even though all is not right in my little world.

Hope in my heart shouts to the pondering world that my God deserves to be trusted!

Why art thou cast down, O my soul?
And why are thou disquieted within me?
Hope thou in God....
For I shall yet praise Him,
Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.
Psalm 42:5,11

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Those People

I wrote this post a few months ago, and didn't want it to be taken wrongly, so I hesitated to hit "publish." But, once again, I've been thinking on these things and asking God to make me a merciful person ~ one who pours out grace on people who don't deserve it. I hope you'll be challenged to do the same.

I've been thinking today of the people I don't like to help and "waste" my time on:

The people who really don't want to change bad enough to do it.

Those people that hate their messed up lives, but they refuse to do anything different.

The people that call and whine about their husband and kids and work and house....

....and want ME to come over and make their life all better.

I have lots of friends with struggles. I help a lot of people. I usually enjoy it.

But those people...

Well, that's a different story.

They don't even try.

They don't even care.

They're always a victim.

Do they ever think about anyone other than themselves?

My mom and I were discussing a couple of people today ~ people who want our help and counsel on a near-daily basis. We've been helping and advising for years, but not much has ever changed.
They're still floundering and depressed and tell us that they can't function like we do because their lives are so bad, while ours are so good. (They actually have more money, less kids, less health problems, and waaay less work and duties and responsibilities than we do, but that's beside the point.)

Mom's more inclined to keep helping them and helping them and helping them. She's almost eternally patient with people. Even bad and ungrateful people.

I've helped them for years; driven them to the ER at really inopportune moments when their kids had sore throats and I thought it was silly to go, but they insisted that they had to. I've given up my bedroom so they could stay there for a few days after they'd just had a big fight with their husband. I've watched their kids for long days when I was already so behind with my own work that I could have cried. I've cleaned their refrigerators when they'd been left in a nauseating mess for weeks or months. I've loaned them money and sometimes they've paid it back. I've let them drive my cars, and let their kids use {and break} my stuff. I've given them some of my favorite clothes, just because they really wanted them, and they didn't have many. I've wiped their kids' vomit off our floors and couches... and sometimes I've become sick myself after spending the day with their sick kids. I've invited them to come along when I really just wanted to have a day with my fun friends and family.

I do this same stuff for other people, and it doesn't bother me because they value my help, and they do their best to get back on their feet and to say thank you and to just be nice about it.

But those people....

I was about done being a servant to those people.

My unloving and unmerciful advice to Mom about someone today: She needs to just learn that everyone's life is hard and she needs to deal with it and wash her dishes and take care of her own kids even though she doesn't feel like doing anything. And she needs to learn that we don't have time to talk to her for an hour a day if she's just going to whine about her life and her husband and not going to act on any of the advice she asks for. She hasn't changed a bit in the five years that we've been her friend, even though she always swears that she will.

The words were barely out of my mouth when I wondered what I look like to God.

Do I ever feel like one of those girls who will never learn and will never change?

Do I look like the person who says she loves God but forgets Him five minutes later?

Do I look like a hopeless case?

Do I repent and turn from my besetting sins, only to find myself back there again and again and again? Asking forgiveness again?? Like I'll never learn, never walk on in victory?

Does God ever see that it's me, calling heaven again and sigh that it's... me?

What does God think when He sees me not even caring.... not even trying?

He had compassion on me when I was His enemy.

He loved me when I didn't want to change.

He made an eternal covenant for my soul, even though He knew I wouldn't be faithful.

He loves with perfect love, when I stumble along and don't even realize how lost I am.

He keeps drawing my heart to Him when I have no idea what a mess I am.

Maybe when He said, "Go, and do likewise" and He pointed at fellow messed up people,
He really meant to help the people who will always be a mess.

Maybe He meant to show mercy to those people.

I think He did.

'Cause that's what He does for me every day of my existence.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Would I Choose God?

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD.... Psalm 27:4

What do I want?

If we could have one thing granted just for today, what would we choose?

Seeing a friend?
An hour to myself?
A happier marriage?
My stress to go away?
More obedient children?
A clean house?
Enough money to pay the bills?
A day off to relax?
The house I've always dreamed of living in?
My head to stop aching?
My schedule to calm down?
One last visit with someone I love?
My dear one's devastating disease to be healed?
The pantry shelves to be organized?

Or would I choose God?
His Presence to overshadow my life and my wants and dreams and hopes and fears and annoyances and needs?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

She's HERE!!!!!!!!!!

Josh and Jemima's beautiful baby girl has arrived: Cherish Mercy!
All 7 pounds and 4 ounces of sweet perfection.
How did God come up with a creation as wonderful as babies?!
I love her to pieces and can't stop nuzzling her soft face and kissing her!

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Shall Wonder That Ever My Eyes Turned Away....

"Looking off unto Jesus," my spirit is blest;
In the world I have turmoil - in Him I have rest;
The sea of my life all about me may roar,
When I look unto Jesus I hear it no more.

Soon, soon shall I know the full beauty and grace
Of Jesus my Lord, when I stand face to face;
I shall know how His love went before me each day,
And wonder that ever my eyes turned away.

~ Verses 2 and 5, sung to the tune of "My Jesus, I Love Thee"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How Fortunate Infinite Wisdom Prevails!

I love, love, love Ruth Bell Graham's poetry... Mom introduced it to me in fourth grade when she gave me a copy of Ruth's book, "Sitting By My Laughing Fire" and told me to learn to write poetry. {I never did write anything worth saving.}

At the time, I thought her poetry was annoying and hard to understand.

Then I grew up a little and lived a little life and started to savor some of her Ruth's words.
And now, there are few things I like more than a Ruth Bell Graham poem. The realness just oozes from it... and her words say what my heart never managed to put into words.

I'll share one of my all-time favorites tonight.

Had I been Joseph's mother
I'd have prayed
protection from his brothers:
"God keep him safe;
he is so young,
so different from
the others."
Mercifully she never knew
there would be slavery
and prison, too.

Had I been Moses' mother
I'd have wept
to keep my little son;
praying she might forget
the babe drawn from the water
of the Nile,
had I not kept
him for her
nursing him the while?
Was he not mine
and she
but Pharaoh's daughter?

Had I been Daniel's mother
I should have pled
"Give victory!
This Babylonian horde-
godless and cruel -
don't let them take him captive
-- better dead,
Almighty Lord!"

Had I been Mary -
Oh, had I been she,
I would have cried
as never a mother cried,
"...Anything, O God,
but crucified!"

With such prayers
my finite wisdom
would assail
Infinite Wisdom;
God, how fortunate
Infinite Wisdom
should prevail!

-- RBG

Monday, August 22, 2011

Days When I Hate Being a Midwife

It's been one of those days when I hate being a midwife. If I wasn't an adult, I would have jumped up and ran out of the office today and said I wasn't coming back.

Why do mamas who don't have many years left to have a baby and who've tried so hard to get pregnant for years and years and years have to be so bitterly crushed and disappointed... told that the little one growing inside them is no longer alive or growing?

And why do I have to dread answering my phone when I see it's a client... hoping that certainly, certainly nothing ELSE could have gone wrong today?!

And why do I have to hope that this woman's husband isn't abusing her and the kids behind closed doors?

And why does it seem like the whole world of mothers and babies and midwives is falling apart today? {I know it isn't really.}

And why do I have to meet with a doctor who hates midwives' guts and try to convince him that I DO care about these mothers and babies?

And why do liability and legality have to matter when all that should matter is if a mama and her baby get the best care for their situation?

And why did I ever want to do this in the first place??

Because I love them too much not to.
{Sometimes I refrain from signing off professional emails to them as "Love, Mary"}

I guess that's why my clients' awful days leave me heartsick, too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

When My Needs Are Worship

It seems that I've had a lot of needs in the past couple of years. Things that send me crying to my Heavenly Father, begging Him for help, for wisdom, for what I need. Sometimes I don't even say what. I just sigh and say, "God, you know..." Some things in my heart are just beyond words.

Sometimes I feel ridiculously needy and wonder to myself, Does anyone else have a heart that wanders as much as mine? Does anyone else find themselves needing the Lord Jesus to change their heart as much as me? Does anyone else beg God for so many things? Does anyone else have so many loved ones with so many big problems that all need prayer?

Sometimes I feel like I should pull myself together and be a triumphant Christian, not such a desperately needy one... One who fails so often. Doesn't God wish that I'd come to Him more often with as a joyfully obedient Godly Christian, instead of being the always-nearly-falling-apart-person? Doesn't He wish that I had more days of smooth sailing, of radiating His Grace and Love? Doesn't He wish I had less of the days where all I can think is, "I need God... so much!" while I stumble through the moments and the problems and struggles and try (and fail) to speak and think as He would have me to?

Several nights ago I was driving home from a long day at the office, tired but happy with a mostly successful day of prenatals behind me. As the miles rolled by and the stars shone overhead, I was listening to the Gospels when the little word "worship" jumped out at me.

Speaking of Jesus: "There came a leper and worshiped Him, saying, 'Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean'! " (Matthew 8:2)

The wretched leper-man didn't come and ask Jesus what he could do to show God's glory to his generation or kneel down and tell Him he would dedicate his life to service in the temple.

He didn't come to Jesus for his friends.

He came for himself.

He came, consumed by his messed up, broken life and his sad heart, living the life an outcast. He wanted his own skin made whole, the ugly stumps of his fingers to work again, to caress someone, to tend vineyards and build houses like other men did. He wanted to walk the streets without calling out, "Unclean! Unclean!" as little children screamed and ran. He wanted life again, not this existence.

He couldn't will away the ugliness that pervaded his life, and maybe his soul.
Was he a bitter man because of what had happened to him?

He came to the only One Who could make his life better.

He came because he thought Jesus could.

Bringing his own needs to Jesus was worship.
Because He came, acknowleging God as the One who could meet His needs!

In all of my beseeching God for wisdom and begging Him for things like knowing what to do with difficult relationships and cars with problems when I'm alone on the road at 2 am; things like keeping babies alive and stopping hemorrhages and dealing with people with severe mental problems; things like not knowing how to interact with certain people and knowing when to say "no" to people that never stop taking and seemingly wasting my time and energy; things like not knowing what to do for or say to friends who are going through horrible things in their marriages and families and homes and churches; things like feeling irritated with people and begging, "Help me to be nice, anyway, God!"; things that are deep in my heart.... aches, hurts, nagging worries...

In all of this asking, I don't tire God?!

He calls it worship?!

He delights in it when I see myself as the mere mortal that I am.
When I come as such, falling down at His feet, broken and hurting and worried and lost,
because, and only because
He is GOD!

He knows I'm just a broken, messed-up person anyway. We all are, if we'd admit it.

He never thought I was successful or victorious... He knew that I wasn't anything, and all I needed was Him.

When I fall down at His feet and utter, "Help me, Lord! My heart is so wrong today!"

He calls that worship.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Happiness Is....

... A new book stand in the kitchen window so I can sing all 21 verses of "Immanuel's Land"
while doing dishes

... Watching a friend in love

... Seeing my little sister grow up into somebody really sweet and Godly

... A brother who is tender and thoughtful and misses us so much

... A sister with a swelling belly full of wiggly baby

... A whole quiet day at home by myself (bliss!)

... A new blue dress with brown polka dots that I adore

... Godly men who live lives of faithfulness day in and day out

... Not answering the phone sometimes

... Reading many chapters a day {it's been too many years since I've read much}

... An office assistant who is so reliable and prompt and cheerful

... My mom... here, alive, happy

... My dad, faithful as clockwork

... Pens that work well

... Laundry all done!

... Jana's homemade cheesecake ice cream

... Clean floors

... Miles to run and walk

... Friends who love me more for pointing out how off-track they've become

... Friends who exhort me, instead of just flattering

... Whole nights of sleep

... A car that has been running without a problem for over two months!!

... Really hard, scary births that end really well

... People that understand schizophrenia and cancer

... A strained checkbook, reminding me that less money isn't less joy, happiness or living

... People that come over and love you even when you're hot and sweaty and the house is a mess and tomatoes are all over the table and floor

... Really old holey bathroom floor replaced with new

... Things that make me think, like: "Whatever humbles me, helps me."

... And for all of the other things that are horrifying, depressing, overwhelming, scary, and worse than I even imagined ~ God is still the same unchanging, just and merciful God.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Cool Breezes

Without air conditioning, there's no escaping the warm stickiness that pervades everything from morning til night all summer. After a week of triple digit temperatures, it's been lovely to wake up to cool breezes and a few raindrops blowing in the window. It's been more than lovely. It makes me smile as soon as I'm conscious and thank God for the little blessings He sends my way!

Tomorrow it's supposed to be 102 again. I'll thank Him for a long drive in an air conditioned car. :)

In other news, Jemima is going to be off bed rest next Wednesday! After that, her baby can arrive whenever it wants to.... between then and early September.
Of course, we're all just a little bit excited and everyone is eagerly anticipating finding out if it's a....
Boy! :)

Abe and Sam have been in Africa for a few weeks. They say that everyone only gets one meal a day there because of lack of food. Abe says that he's sure Sam will gladly eat anything we serve him for the rest of his life when he gets home! Sam flies home next week, but Abe has been asked to stay longer. We hope he won't shrivel up on one meal a day!

As for me... I shouldn't blog at 2 am. I should go to bed. I think I will....

Doing the Unthinkable

To love means loving the unlovable.
To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable.
Faith means believing the unbelievable.
Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.
- G. K. Chesterton

"If God can bring blessing from the broken body of Jesus and glory from something that's as obscene as the cross, He can bring blessing from my problems and my pain and my unanswered prayer. I just have to trust Him."

Anne Graham Lotz

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

He's God. And I'm Not.

I've noticed over the years that many time friends "steal" quotes from my blog and post them as their Facebook status for the day... Tonight, I'm going post a quote that I "stole" from my sister, Jemima, who recently posted it on Facebook.... :)

"Tonight, my soul, be still and sleep
The storms are raging on the deep -- God's deep, not yours --
Be still and sleep.
... God's heaven will comfort those who weep -- God's heaven, not yours --
Be still and sleep."

How glad I am.

The world's problems are not for me to solve tonight.

They are for God, in His Almighty wisdom and Infinite power to take care of.

He can change hearts. I can't.

And "all His works are done in truth and righteousness."

He never misjudges a situation.

He's God. And I'm not.

I'm so glad.

Friday, July 22, 2011

God At My Place? Or Me At His Place?

Psalm 27:4 has been one of my favorite verses for a long time. When I think I want something badly, I often restate the words of the Psalmist: "ONE thing have I desired of the Lord...."

THAT will I seek after.


Knowing Him. Loving Him.

His Worth.
THAT will I seek after. All the days of my life.

The other day I was looking at the verse again, trying to figure out how to paraphrase it for someone after a conversation when I saw something in the rest of the verse.

The Psalmist says that he will seek after the Lord, "that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in His temple."

I've always thought of it as David seeking after his God.

But... wait! There's more.

He's seeking to live in GOD's presence.

He's not seeking the presence of God in HIS life.

He's transplanting his life, his location, to GOD'S presence, where God is.

There's a difference.

Is God with me everywhere, anywhere? Sure! Can I hear His Spirit on a hilltop or in a bustling city street? In church or at work or in the car? Of course!

But so often I pray for the Presence of God in MY life, when what I should be begging for is to live my life in GOD'S PLACE.... to plant myself where He is, rather than to try to add Him to MY life and loves and wishes and places.

In a literal church building? I don't think that's the essence of what David is talking about.
He talks about going to the temple, though.
That meant leaving HIS place (even though God communed with him there often)
and going to GOD'S place.

I've prayed a whole new way this week about several things.

I haven't went anywhere different physically.

But I've asked God to let me live in His presence,
even if that's all that He gives me in life.

Somehow I feel, like David, that if I only want one thing in life it must be this:

To live where God lives and to behold His worth and beauty.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pieces Will Feed a Multitude

If my life is broken when given to Jesus,

it is because pieces will feed a multitude,

while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad.

~ Ruth Stull

The Saddest Thing - According to a Hippie

I wrote this last summer, and then never posted it.
It's kind of pointless, I guess, but it amused me. :)
~ Mary

Yesterday I was running errands, going to home visits all over the rural Ozarks.
I ran out the door at 7 am, with a rice cake and a date cookie to sustain me for the day.
Now it was early afternoon and some food sounded good. Maybe Subway? Except there was no such a thing in any of these little towns... I passed one after another. Most of them had a dozen houses and a post office. I would be doing good if there was a gas station that sold some candy bars and peanuts - certainly not a sustainable and reasonably healthy lunch.

As I passed the stop sign for the next little town, it looked as though perhaps there were more than just a few houses down the street. So, I pulled off the highway and wandered through small-town America for a bit. It was all so classic - a few little antique stores and handcraft shops; an old man leaning against the wall under the awning of a little shop smoking a pipe.
A few old cars and battered pickups rattled through the town. But nothing was open. This was a Monday, and all the stores had signs taped in the windows that said, "Open Tuesday-Friday."
I sighed, wondering why the whole town decided not to do business on Mondays.

And then I saw it - a little health food store set back from the crumbling sidewalk! A faded orange "OPEN" sign hung in the window. Maybe I would find some lunch here! Certainly they would have plain yogurt or.... something. I pushed the creaky door open and stepped inside. As usual, the smell of herbs, spices and bulk foods permeated the atmosphere.
Nobody was in sight. At the counter, a few papers hung here and there proclaiming, "Fresh organically raised lamb!" or "Homegrown vegetables - Call Marla."

Then a little lady appeared out of the back. Thin, stringy white hair hung down her back over her organic hemp blouse. Her Birkenstocks looked worn and well-loved. Her flowing skirt looked like it belonged in a field of daisies. Most notably though, her little brown face looked aged and etched with care. It was thin as was the rest of her.

"Are you looking for something?" she asked helpfully.

"Oh.. no... I'm just... looking. Nothing in particular," I replied, hoping that she wouldn't expect me to buy something if I didn't find lunch material among the bags of stone-ground rye flour and packages of dried mango.

"Do you live around here?" she inquired a bit puzzled.

"No, I don't. I live over by ___."

"Oh!" she said, this time with just a bit of interest rising in her slow, tired voice. "So you must know ___ ?"

Actually, I didn't know her aquaintance.

She sighed again. "Oh..." as she continued watching me glance across the shelves.

I tried to make conversation. "So... have you been in business here for a long time?"

"Since 1974. We - well, I mean my husband and bunch of other hippies - all moved here back then and started this kind of stuff. There was a whole bunch of us - we all lived together. Just a caravan of cars and buses, and we lived out of those. We all lived on wheat germ and vegetables and homemade bread. We were all healthy, and spent plenty of time in the sunshine and fresh air. But it's all changed.... " and her voice trailed off as she looked out the health food store window wistfully.

"It all changed. I'm the only one who hasn't changed. Everyone else eats white bread and has a pot belly. It's the saddest thing I've ever seen in my life." Each word seemed to drop heavily, wearily, sadly.

I suppressed a chuckle and stared hard at the basket of freshly dug sweet potatoes at my feet lest she see my amusement.

She tapped her hands on the counter. "Yes. The saddest thing I've ever seen... It's the old hippies who used to eat alfalfa sprouts with me who are sipping pepsi and beer now. They don't even care about healthy bodies anymore." Then her voice rose to an angry pitch: "And they're the ones who know better!! It's really depressing to go on with life when nobody else lives for your ideals anymore."

And then her phone rang, and customers walked in and needed her help, and I had to buy something for lunch and leave lest I be late for the next prenatal. I wished that there would have been time for me to say something - anything - about the essence of life and what really matters and is worth living for. But, she was busy and I had to go, so I left the little wiry brown lady in her store full of stuff to keep her fading earthly body together a little longer.

I just had to chuckle as I drove away. What a perspective. The saddest thing she knows of in life is pot bellied people eating white bread and drinking pepsi.

Maybe sometime I'll see the her again, or maybe I won't. I honestly don't even remember the name or location of the little town where I found her health food store.

But I remember her. I still think about her sometimes. And I still wonder if she weeps over her white bread eating friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It Will Make No Difference in the End

Re-posting this from a couple years ago, because it's just so true. It doesn't matter what other good things you choose in life. It really doesn't. God is the choice in life. He is the way, the truth, and life itself. May I live that way!

If you have not chosen the kingdom of God,

it will make in the end no difference

what you have chosen instead.

- William Law

109 Degrees

The thermometer on the back porch reads 109 degrees today. That's out of direct sun.

Jemima asked me today if I'd like to be her - pregnant, on bed rest.... in air conditioning.
It made me chuckle. Well... maybe.... today! :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Real Me

The real me is what is inside my heart,

not what I choose to carefully let out of my heart."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Family Picture Fun!

Mom wanted family pictures for Mother's Day since she had all of her kids home for the day. Jemima was on bedrest (still is), so that decided the location for the pictures - her front yard, where she could hurry from the couch to a chair and sit up for a few minutes, looking like she does that all day.

Jon from church agreed to accompany us over there and use his skills to create stuff we would all really like. It was also really helpful to have a male in charge of picture taking, because somehow all the males in the family are more inclined to behave and smile when he says so. I'm not sure why. (Thanks, Jon!)

Okay, so we did take a lot of posed pictures first, but these days there's a lot of kissing in the family, so the younger married couples were all about a kissing picture. I love it! All of the random expressions and looks on everyone else's faces are just hilarious!

And then, the nice posed one where we all tried to smile angelically so it could hang on the wall for decades without us hating it. I was surprised that we (er, Jon) managed to get that many people to look at the camera and look pleasant all at the same moment! No small feat, if you've ever watched our family picture taking sessions in the past. They're pretty entertaining. Though, with a sister who's a professional photographer, I'd have to say the pictures have been better in recent years. Or maybe that's just because we've all grown up a little.

Anyway, you'll have to enjoy these pictures here. Because you're not going to get them in your year end letter. Instead, we hope that the next family picture (the one we'll send you) includes two babies.... That will be worth taking a picture of! It's been a long time in coming in this family!

The Two Pregnant Gals

The two happy newlywed ladies in the family
(Heather - left, due in November; Jemima - right, due at the end of August)
both even more happy to be adding to the family!

(Sorry if these pictures bore you... I did post them on Facebook a few months ago...)

Choose for us, God

Choose for us, God,
nor let our weak preferring
Cheat us of good
Thou hast for us designed
Choose for us, God;
Thy wisdom is unerring.
And we are fools and blind.

A Summer Away From Facebook

I'm sure some of my friends wonder what happened and why I left Facebook for now, after being a prolific Facebook poster for several years. There really wasn't (and isn't) any stunningly huge reason, other than that I simply felt the Lord asking me to do it. It was amazing how simple it was for me to give it up, too. I just said, "Okay, Lord" and actually began looking forward to life without Facebook for awhile.

It started this spring, as the Lord began convicting me of attitudes and habits in my life that didn't please Him. And chief of all sins, was that my habits and ways of wrong thinking didn't bother me enough to change them. I wanted to change them... I'd resolve to do better... but so soon I'd be living the same old busy, self-absorbed, God-forgetting, people-pleasing way.
Which meant that I really wasn't very serious about changing. People who say they're preparing to be professional athletes or musicians and can barely squeeze in a little time each day to practice show by their actions what really matters to them in life. They can say whatever they want to about their desires and goals, but it's obvious to everyone where their priorities lie. So lived I my life.

God brought it up to me over and over. I was miserable - trapped in a life of pressing needs and clamoring noise, knowing I needed God more, but living a barren inner life. How can one give God to others if you aren't full of Him yourself?

My dear sister-in-law gave me a book on Brokenness that I managed to read in snatches over Spring. The Lord used that book to show me how wrong, dead wrong my heart was. I was existing as a Christian, looking like and acting like one to all the world around me, but not living, fully living - drinking at the Springs of Living water, every day, all day any more....

The difference between doing and being something is so vastly huge! I realized that although I still looked and acted much the same outwardly as I did back when my heart was right, inwardly I was withering. I'd lived the Christian life long enough, that I could get up every morning and "do" it... be kind, servant-hearted, cheerful, forgiving... but did I love God with all my heart? Did I crave Him? Did I still know and walk with Him as I used to?

I then spent a few days at a Bible conference, seeking God. He kept peeling back the layers of my heart with every message I heard, every chapter in the Bible that I read, and every time I sought God in prayer. Showing me my heart, probing into the corners... reminding me that He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble and that He is near to the brokenhearted.

Did I really care more about living a life that people agree with and being a person who they like, or did I care most about what God wanted from my life? ...All so elementary, but all so fresh again when your heart is all wrong and you didn't even realize the half of the ugliness of it all!

There was also another situation going on in a friend's life that had been heavy on my heart for months. During this time, God pointed His finger at my heart as the prophet Nathan once did to King David and said, "Thou art the man!" All of the grieving I had done over this dear, dear friend of mine growing cold towards and then leaving her husband and children.... God showed me that she had done it to another sinful human being... but I had done it to Him, my Creator, Redeemer, the Holy, Almighty God. I no longer loved him like I should, not because I had any reason not to love Him, but just because I was busy and full of everything but God. I can rarely remember being so convicted and grieved by my own sin and my own heart as at that moment as I realized that God's words from James 4:4 rang true in my own life: "Ye adulterers and adulteresses...!"

God brought me to a point of desperation to again have a pure heart, a broken and contrite heart before Him, a heart that I wouldn't exchange even a little piece of for anything in all the world or in all of this life.... A heart desperately hungry for God... to love Him, to know Him, to delight in Him, and Him alone!

All of these things I've always said in my head. There's never been a day in the last twenty years, when I haven't thought these things or wanted my relationship with Jesus Christ to be like that.

But living these things is different. It's one thing to resolve to know and love God as He is worthy of. It's an entirely different thing to roll yourself out of bed an hour or two earlier after only a few hours of sleep to seek Him until you find Him, instead of just functioning on fumes. It's one thing to realize that you need God more than anything else in the world. It's an entirely different thing to live that way - to let urgent work pile up and cancel fun events because there is nothing that needs to be done more than to commune with God and listen to His voice.

As the Lord humbled me and crumbled every last little thing that I might have thought I was doing "good" or right, I began to desperately want to bring Him pleasure, and the slightest care about what anyone else thought or approved of faded. It has become one of my goals this year to live for an audience of One - God, and Him alone.

Which brings us to Facebook. Sometimes Facebook makes me feel like I live in a viewing tank with many folks visiting my life and sharing their opinions. It's not all bad, in fact, often it's helpful or nice. My goals for Facebook have always been to encourage and inspire others to seek what matters most in life; to make them think; to be real and honest about myself, and if nothing else, to just make people smile. But, in my quest for seeking the pleasure of an audience of One, I thought that might be easiest without the distraction of other people's commentary on my life or opinions. :)

Facebook hasn't taken up a ton of my time in the last year because I rarely log onto it when I'm on the computer. I usually just Facebook from my Blackberry while I'm waiting in line or elsewhere have 2 minutes with "nothing else to do."
Nothing else, that is... except seek God. He can be sought anywhere. I don't ever see myself having a slow-paced life and easy routine that makes it easy to seek God and spend lots of time in His Word. I don't have slow mornings in my jammies with tea and my Bible. I have 2 am calls from frantic mamas who need me now.... or if I wake up in my own bed in the morning, there's an incredible amount of things to be done around here, like my own mother needing my help. Evenings are no better. Days are non-stop. Sometimes there just are a hundred things that HAVE to be done.

Mothers of little ones find this true. You can't wait to nurse the baby just because you haven't spent some time with the Lord yet. The toddler wakes up at 5:30, crying that he's wet again... and the four year old wakes up throwing up, regardless of whether you've read your Bible or had enough sleep. Sometimes you just have to be a mom. Some days I just have to be a midwife, and a sister and daughter and caregiver....

But above all, I HAVE to seek God. I have to love Him. I have to know Him. I have to live for Him! THAT is the cry of my heart. If my heart is desperate enough, I will seek Him daily and above all else in life!

I plan to come to back to Facebook and I'm not making a lot of other major changes to life... except that regardless of what else happens, I need God.... enough of Him to fill my heart to overflowing, every day. And I intend to live that way!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My Prayer

Spirit of God, descend upon my heart;
Wean it from earth, through all its pulses move;
Stoop to my weakness, mighty as Thou art,
And make me love Thee as I ought to love.

I ask no dream, no prophet ecstasies,
No sudden rending of the veil of clay,
No angel visitant, no opening skies;
But take the dimness of my soul away.

Hast Thou not bid us love Thee, God and King?
All, all Thine own - soul, heart, and strength and mind.
I see Thy cross - there teach my heart to cling.
Oh, let me seek Thee, and, oh, let me find.

Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear,
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sign;
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.

Teach me to love Thee as Thine angels love
One holy passion filling all my frame;
The baptism of the heaven descended Dove;
My heart an altar, and Thy love the flame.

- George Croly

Mom and Her Girls

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grace Like.... Taco Salad

While I'm publishing stuff that's sat in draft form for way too long, here's another old post that I never published.
Re-reading it brought a smile to my face.
I hope it does the same for you. :)

Today's been quite a day. But it's been full of grace... grace I didn't deserve. Not only is God far kinder than I deserve, but so are people in my life!

Today really started with yesterday, when my car broke down as I was leaving an emergency ultrasound appointment with a client. The car started acting funny, then funnier, then downright scary when I managed to jerk into a nearby church parking lot before it totally stopped working. Dad and Sam were so kind to come to my rescue and bring me over to Mom and Dad's 31rst wedding anniversary celebration that I was missing!

Today, Abe loaded up the car and hauled it home. The days of the good old green car may be numbered. (I bought it less than a year ago.) It seems like the transmission AND an axle decided to have major problems at the same time. Oh yes... and the brakes. That's after the $500 repair on something else last month.
I do drive the poor thing a lot.

Anyway, my dad graciously agreed to let me use his car til we can fix mine (if it's worth doing that) or figure out a Plan B. So, he unloaded his tools from the work car this morning and handed me the keys.

My mother kindly made the seven trips from the house to the car loading all of my birth and prenatal bags, charts, oxygen tank and all of the other midwife supplies that have to accompany me everywhere I go. I was upstairs, replying to urgent legislative emails when she brought me a fresh fruit smoothie before I ran out the door. My mom doesn't have to be that nice. She just is.

I headed off to do prenatals, finding that this car has all of the quirks that Dad warned me about, plus a few other problems. But it runs, and it works in drive and reverse. I learned that the brakes work minimally and one should start braking a block away from the upcoming stop light. Thankfully, I learned that on a gravel road this morning when a large cow trailer stopped suddenly on the road in front of me and I slid gently into it, stomping hard on the brakes.
Dad's car looks so awful that it's almost hilarious! I definitely look like a charity case or a drug dealer (take your pick) pulling up at people's house.

So, away I went in my lovely car. I stopped by a former client's house to return some books she'd loaned me last fall. She looked soooo happy to see me, and scooped up her sweet little girl and put her in my arms. "Isn't she beautiful?! I've missed you!!!" and a hundred other things tumbled out of her mouth. The client who never chatted or said much beside the necessary stuff at prenatals. I thought she didn't particularly like me. Some days I wondered if she just wasn't the emotional or friendly type. But today, she almost cried that I had stopped to see her, and she had to show me all of her baby's pictures on her digital camera. I realized for the first time that she really did like me a lot, and she counted me among her good friends.

My happiness was short-lived though, when I arrived at my Amish client's house to find that she wasn't there. With no phone to call her and re-schedule, it could be tricky to catch her at home in the next couple days. So I wrote her a note and left it on the kitchen table.

I got a text from another client: "Did I have an appointment at your office at 10?"
I groaned. I must not have wrote her appointment down in my schedule book after we'd be emailing and she had rescheduled it... great. Now, she had driven a long way for her appointment, and had taken off work. This was just not .... good. She'd have to sit there all morning waiting for me to get there from Amish country and she needed to get back to work.

I thought fast and told her to go back to work and I'd make up by coming for an evening home visit. I knew she wasn't happy and I had just messed up her whole day. I apologized. She said it was okay, but I could hear in her voice that it wasn't okay. I felt horrible. But, there was nothing left to do... So, I went on with the day's errands and headed to the office.

One of my clients told me that she wanted me to keep the extra $200 that they'd paid me. Really?

Then I did initial visits for several new clients - and I love them!

And then regular prenatals. A baby that has been breech for awhile is now vertex! Grace.
Thank you, God.

And then I met my sister at the sonographer's for her ultrasound. Some of it looked better than we had hoped. Some looked a little concerning. Grace.

Then I rushed to the town where my client lives who'd come to the office in vain that morning. She invited me for a dinner of taco salad with her and her husband. A much better choice than fast food or the handful of almonds I still had in my car. Grace. I'd just missed her appointment this morning, and she had felt horrible the whole day, and the drive had made her feel worse... and yet, they served me taco salad with a smile. And we talked about her upcoming birth, and her mom, and her hopes and fears. Grace. Big grace.

And then I drove the old white boat of a car home, listening to the Ipod that another client gave me several years ago. And I thought about Grace...

Getting what I don't deserve. That's me. That's my life. That's my God!

It Is Christ

It is not thy hold on Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.

It is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.

It is not thy faith in Christ that saves thee; it is Christ.

- C.H. Spurgeon

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

On Singleness ~ All That Really Matters

My little sister, Joanna, in the hayfield

I wrote this blog post a few months ago, and then never posted it. Tonight, as I was looking through some of my old drafts that I never quite dared to hit "publish" on, I decided to go ahead. I hope it blesses someone. :)

Today's been a day of reflection. I spent most of it out in the sun, making a garden for a dear friend. I loved soaking up the sun, the wind, the fresh air, the dirt between my fingers, the little green leaves popping out of the tree branches above my head. We knelt beside the garden, pulled weeds, shook dirt out of clods of sod, and hauled buckets of compost. We talked about all the things we used to be... the innocent little girls we were who wanted to get married at eighteen.

The girls we are now. . .

She'd rather be playing with her baby and cleaning her house, she said. But instead she has to work. That wasn't the mommyhood she had planned for herself as a teenager.

As for me, nothing has turned out to be the way I thought it would be.

But my life isn't bad. It's just not what I wanted. Or what I thought I wanted.
I wanted to have a whole passel of kids by now.... a husband with the world to conquer and me behind him to help him do it.

But does it really matter? I have God.

Is God sovereign? Yes.
Does God love me? Yes.
Does God glorify Himself through our lives, rough and crooked though they are? Yes.

Is He glorified in me?
That I ask myself today.... Is He?

That's all that really matters.
If I am what God wants...
If I am the daughter He made for His own pleasure, may I bring Him pleasure.

May my life, "pleasing or painful, dark or bright, as best may seem to Thee..."
be a symphony of praise, a ray of God's glory, a beacon of the Hope that lies ahead.

May I care more if God is glorified through my life of aloneness than I care that I am alone.

May I care more if God is pleased, than if I am pleased with what He gave me.

May I be pleased with what He gave me.

"There failed not ought of any good thing which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel; all came to pass." Joshua 21:45

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Aren't You Glad?!

Nothing can alter the character of God.

In the course of a human life,
tastes and outlook and temper may change radically:
a kind, equable man may turn bitter and crotchety:
a man of good-will may grow cynical and callous.

But nothing of this sort happens to the Creator.
He never becomes less truthful, or merciful,
or just, or good, than He used to be.

--J.I. Packer

Early Morning Gratitute

I went for a run in the already warm, sticky, sun-coming-up-over-the-hills morning and

I found myself grateful for

a healthy body

great running shoes

an Ipod full of lovely music and thoughts and words


creeks babbling over polished stones

sun-dappled country roads with trees forming a canopy overhead

An hour alone without my phone ringing or people trying to talk to me

Liz back at home, singing and making breakfast

And most of all, my mind focused on the phrase:

"... the God of Hope..." (Romans 15:13) -- More on that, coming soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Because He Only Gives Love

I'm thinking it may be time to give up.
Give up, once and for all -
give up all the fears and all that weighs heavy.

Give up the worries - and "bend the knee and be small"
and let God give what God chooses to give --

because He only gives love.

~ Ann Voskamp

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The God Who Rules ALL Things Well

I'm so glad God sends me tokens of His love.

Sometimes it's just peace, complete peace, when a situation is rearing it's ugly head and threatening to destroy what I love most.

John Wesley said it well when he said, "I see God as sitting upon His throne, ruling all things well."

I've repeated that to myself so many times this week. And it reminds me to believe it that, YES, God IS on His throne, and He is ruling ALL things well!

Then there are other things - things that I thought would never work out so well, and they have. They remind me again, "Oh, ye of little faith! Why did you doubt?!"

Why do I not believe the Sovereign God to order all things well in my life and in the lives of those around me?

Why do I fret... worry about stuff that seems to big and awful to me, and yet seems so little and simple to God?

This is probably the five-hundredth time I've had to learn this lesson. I don't know why I forget so quickly. But I'm glad God never stops reminding me: "See, Mary? I'm God. I can take care of this."

Yes, Lord. You can do all things. I know that you can...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Forgiven Souls

A few tidbits from J.C. Ryle this morning:

Forgiven souls hate sin.
Remember the woman in Simon's house weeping at Jesus feet over her sin? (Luke 7:38)
Remember how the Ephesians publicly burned their wicked books? (Acts 19:19)
Remember how Paul mourned over his youthful transgressions? (I Cor. 15:9)

Forgiven souls love Christ.
As Jesus said to Simon, "Her sins, which are man, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little." (Luke 7:47)
John 5:23
I Cor. 16:22

Forgiven souls are humble.
Forgiveness produces the spirit of Jacob: "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and all the truth which Thou hast showed unto Thy servant." (Genesis 32:10)
It produces the heart of Hezekiah: "I shall go softly all my years..." (Isaiah 38:15)
And that of the Apostle Paul: "I am less than the least of all saints - chief of sinners." (Ephesians 3:8, I Timothy 1:15)

Forgiven souls are holy.
"What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits?" (Psalm 116:12)
Zacchaeus pardon made him say, "The half of my goods I give to the poor, and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him four-fold." (Luke 19:8)

Forgiven souls are forgiving.
They endeavour to "Walk in love, as Christ loved them, and gave Himself for them." (Eph. 5:2)
Forgiveness is the way by which every saved soul enters heaven. Forgiveness is the only title by which he remains in heaven. Forgiveness is the eternal song of the with all the redeemed who inhabit heaven. Surely an unforgiving soul in heaven would find his heart completely out of tune.

And lastly, the most important thing - Are you forgiven?

How can you be content to leave it uncertain whether you are forgiven? Surely that a man can make his will, insure his life, given directions about his funeral, and yet leave his soul's affairs in uncertainty, is an astonishing thing indeed.
Jesus calls out, "Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

Thousands and tens of thousands have sought for pardon at the mercy seat of Jesus Christ, and not one has ever returned to say that he sought in vain. Sinners of every name and nation - sinners of every sort and description - have knocked at the door of the fold, and none have ever been refused admission. Zacchaeus the extortioner, Mary Magdalen the harlot, Saul the persecutor, Peter the denier of his Lord, the Jews who crucified their Messiah, the idolatrous Athenians, the adulterous Corinthians, the ignorant Africans, the bloodthirsty New Zealanders - all have ventured their souls on Christ's promises of pardon, and none have ever found them fail.

-- J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Words You Can't Utter

One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart
that you can't utter.
- James Earl

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rats in the Cellar

Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of man he is?
Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man; it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light."
-- C.S. Lewis

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Tonight I'm thankful for

So very many dishes to wash

16 little children, mostly under the age of 8, at our house for the day

All the cheerios, pineapple, peanut butter sandwiches, yogurt smoothies, chicken nuggets, mulberries, strawberries, and cherries they ate all day long, leaving crumbs all over the floor and juice dribbling down their chins and arms

Sweaty, dirty little 2 year old arms encircling my neck and squeezing me tight when I'm already hot and sweaty and don't want anybody to touch me

A dad who says "I love you" every time he calls me or sees me leaving for the day.

A mom who says, "Let's stop and pray about this right now" every time a conversation involves someone else's problems.

A sister who does hard things without complaint

A teenage brother who isn't afraid of long, long hot sweaty days of work

Dinner with my family and friends all around the table.

Cold water gushing out of garden hoses as I plant tomatoes

Piles of clean sheets and laundry, preparing for the next friends' arrival

Quiet nights all by myself with chances to hear myself think after everyone's gone to sleep

Summer breezes drifting in the open windows when I awake

Being mostly off-call.